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Benjamin Simpkins and Pourquoi Pas Z

Dana Wille and Mach 5

Louisa Bracket and Memphis Belle

Madison Billings and Stonestreet

Madison Billings and Stonestreet

Samantha Wagner and L'Etoile

Samantha Wagner and L'Etoile

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Samantha Wagner and L’Etoile Make it Clear Twice to Triumph in the $7500 NAL Low Junior Amateur/Owner Jumper Classic

Written by: Carrie Wirth
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2015-07-18

Traverse City, MI – July 18, 2015 - Samantha Wagner, an amateur rider from South Barrington, Illinois, and her chestnut Zwiebrucker gelding, L’Etoile, outrode a field of 32 horse and rider combinations to win the $7,500 NAL Junior Amateur Classic during Week III of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival at the expansive and lovely Flintfields Horse Park. Eight competitors had clean first rounds over Leopoldo Palacios’ track but Wagner and L’Etoile were the only to achieve double clear rounds. Madison Billings, another amateur from North Barrington, and Stonestreet were the fastest of the four-faulters and won the red ribbon.

The course included a very tight five strides from the out of an oxer-vertical one-stride to a white fan-standard vertical. Many of the riders with clean first rounds were unable to shorten enough to keep the rails in the cups of the white vertical.

“I really liked this course today,” Wagner said. “The lines all rode really nicely and the oxers were just big enough. Obviously, it was a little bit challenging, but I really liked the way it rode. I think in the jump-off, the turn to the skinny, which was the third jump in the jump-off, was a good opportunity to become the fastest, but that rail ended up coming down for a lot of people.”

Billings, the second place finisher agreed with Wagner, “Today’s course was really technical, especially the jump-off. I think it really tested the riders. I’m fortunate that my horse is good at slicing the corners. I had a rail, so I just decided to let it flow then after that.”

The first pair to complete a fault- free round was Benjamin Simpkins from Wellington, Florida and Chopin Z, the second place finishers in Thursday’s Low Junior Amateur/Owner class. The duo downed a rail leaving them with four faults in a time of 40.743 seconds. The next clean first round went to Danielle Duryea, a junior rider from Dublin, Ohio and her Hanoverian mare Sambalita. The team completed the short track in 43.464 seconds, but also fell victim to a rail and slid into second place temporarily.

Amateur Andrew Januzzi from Eastpointe, Michigan and his mount Windsor also progressed to the jump- off round but incurred eight faults. Several rounds later, Louisa Brackett, a junior from Grays Lake, Illinois and her Irish Sport Horse Memphis Belle achieved a clean first round. In the short course they outran the competition, tripping the timers at 38.988 seconds and sliding into the lead, if not only momentarily.

The next clean first rounder was the duo of Stonestreet and Billings who took over the lead after their jump-off round, completed in 37.847 seconds with four faults. Mach 5 and owner Dana Wille, a junior from Dexter, Michigan, repeated the four-fault score in their short track but had the slower time of 39.076 seconds that would eventually earn them fourth place.

Wagner and L’Etoile were 26 in the order and would be the first and only double clear effort of the class, earning them the lead spot in the victory gallop and the championship of the division, while Billings and Stonestreet claimed the second place prize. Benjamin Simpkins and Porquoi Pas Z were awarded the division’s reserve championship.

“L’Etoile is 11 years old and I started riding him this past November,” Wagner said. “My trainer Liz Atkins owned him before that. I really feel like we’ve been a great team. He’s got such a quirky personality, but that’s what I like in a horse. He’s got such a big personality and his heart is just as big. I was pretty fortunate that I went later on in the class, so I could see how it (the course) rode and how the results were coming in.”

Billings was also very complimentary of her horse, Stonestreet, and their partnership in the jumper ring.

“I’ve had Stonestreet for four years, and he’s absolutely perfect,” Billings, who trains with Nancy Whitehead, “The looser the rein and the more forward you are with him galloping to the jumps, the better he’s going to be. The more you let him take over, the better. It’s nice; I don’t have to worry about too much other than the course.”

This is Billing’s third year showing at Flintfields Horse Park. “I really love the surrounding area,” she said. “It is really great because when I’m not showing I can go to the beach and go to some of the good restaurants around.”

Sunday is a huge day in the Grand Prix Arena at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. The featured classes include the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior Amateur/ Owner Classic and the $50,000 Flintfields Grand Prix presented by North Face Farm.

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